Tag Archives: south ozone park

National Grid to install natural gas lines along Lefferts Boulevard

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo


National Grid’s efforts to modernize its gas system in Queens will affect drivers and residents on Lefferts Boulevard in the weeks ahead.

National Grid and its contractor, Network Infrastructure, have now begun work to install a new gas main along 84th Avenue between 115th Street and Lefferts Boulevard. Due to this construction, 84th Avenue between 115th and 116th streets will be closed to through traffic and on-street parking will be unavailable from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

It is part of the Queens Gas Reliability Project, a $100 million effort by National Grid scheduled to be completed in spring 2016. The construction will take between five and six weeks to complete.

“We are working closely with the local community to minimize the disruption and we thank them for their patience and cooperation during this complex construction project,” said Mike Ruiz, director of community and customer management at National Grid. “The Queens Gas Reliability Project is important to strengthening the network for our Queens customers and it’s a good example of our Connect 21 vision to modernize our energy delivery system and to help customers take more control of their energy use.”

New gas mains have already been installed in South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Kew Gardens.

National Grid will install more than 6 miles of gas mains through central and south Queens and once the installation is complete, crews will work in neighborhoods along the route, spanning from Rockaway Boulevard to Long Island Expressway, to upgrade the natural gas service in the local communities.

The Queens Gas Reliability Project is part of National Grid’s $1.3 billion investment focused on replacing aging gas mains; installing new mains and other facilities to accommodate customers requesting natural gas service; and ensuring that natural gas supplies can meet increasing customer demand.


Flushing contractor busted in home improvement scam

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File Photo

A Flushing contractor has been charged with scamming $10,000 in down payments from Queens homeowners for work he never performed, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

Alfred Lakas, 57, allegedly took money from three homeowners for air-conditioning and other work to be done at their residences which he failed to do, and did not return any of the money. Lakas, who operates Al’s Heating on 172nd Street in Flushing, is also being charged with misrepresenting himself as being licensed to do the work, although he is not.

Lakas was arraigned on Tuesday before Queens Criminal Court Judge John Zoll on ten counts, charging him with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and scheme to defraud, among other offenses.

He was ordered to be held on $5,000 bail and will return to court on Sept. 15. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

According to Brown, Lakas is accused of misrepresenting himself as a licensed professional to perform air-conditioning, heating and other contracting work from February 2012 to June 2015. His complaining victims are three homeowners respectively from South Ozone Park, Douglaston-Little Neck and Kew Gardens.

Brown said consumers should be cautious when hiring a home improvement contractor, and that cases like this one are a pervasive problem.

“Defective or incomplete home improvement repairs are among the top consumer complaints my office receives,” the district attorney said. “To avoid being a victim of a home repair scheme, consumers should request and check a contractor’s references and check with the proper city agencies to ensure that he is licensed — and not just take his word for it.”

The District Attorney’s office is urging anyone who may have been a victim of this alleged scheme to call the Queens District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau at 718-286-6673.


Stringer rejects contract for South Ozone Park juvenile detention center

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of PropertyShark/Nicholas Strini


After months of petitioning and a lawsuit filed by the South Ozone Park Civic Association West (SOPCAW) and three South Ozone Park residents, the proposed Close to Home juvenile detention center has been denied by City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Councilman Ruben Wills announced the rejection of the Administration of Child Services’ contract at Tuesday’s SOPCAW meeting.

A spokesperson for Stringer’s office said the comptroller’s office returned a contract to ACS on June 12 “due to inconsistencies in the contract,” but did not specify what those inconsistencies were.

“For months, we have been shining a light on ACS’ attempt to inappropriately locate this juvenile prison in the heart of South Ozone Park’s community,” Wills said in a statement. “It has presented the facility to the public as a foster home for troubled youth, and has circumvented a number of regulations to maintain that facade.”

The juvenile detention center would house youths in a limited secure facility featuring a perimeter fence with lighting, gated windows, locked doors and surveillance cameras at 133-23 127 St. Wills and residents have argued that the facility would be a burden to the community because another Close to Home facility and Skyway Men’s Shelter are both located in the vicinity.

A spokesperson for ACS said they are still hopeful that they can bring the facility to South Ozone Park.

“The comptroller’s office has given ACS additional time to provide more information about our contracts for Limited Secure Placement services, and we are hopeful that we will be able to do right by these young people and bring them closer to home later this summer,” the spokesperson said.

Angie, a South Ozone Park resident and SOPCAW member who wished to have her last name withheld when speaking with The Courier, said she was “ecstatic” when she heard the news and is confident that the community can permanently block the placement of the facility.

“They can [bring the contract back to Stringer] but we still have a lawsuit,” she said.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in April against the property owner KAD of Queens, LLC, and the operator, Sheltering Arms Children and Family Services.

In his statement, Wills asked Stringer to audit all Close to Home facilities because “ACS has failed to detect critical security gaps and other inadequacies in its providers’ supervision of the delinquents in its custody due to its haste in implementing the program.”

Wills also called on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration to work with the community in order to identify an alternate site for the facility.

“Together, we can do this right,” Wills said.


Community Board 10 says no to juvenile justice program

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua


The construction of a Close to Home juvenile justice program in South Ozone Park was the hot topic during the Community Board 10 (CB 10) meeting on Thursday.

The proposed facility in South Ozone Park has angered residents, who say that the city has already opened a number of social service programs in the community, including an adult men’s shelter and a Close to Home non-secure facility.

The Close to Home juvenile justice program would be a limited secure facility featuring a perimeter fence with lighting, gated windows, locked doors and surveillance cameras. The facility is planned for 133-23 127 St., one block away from the non-secure facility and close to Skyway Men’s Shelter.

Board 10 sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on April 23 to discuss the Fair Share Assessment, a mandate “to further the fair distribution of the burdens and benefits associated with city facilities,” according to nyc.gov.

Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner Gladys Carrion responded to the letter and Betty Braton, CB 10 chair, read the letter aloud to everyone in attendance.

“I understand your concerns about the perceived negative impact of the LSP [limited secure placement] residential facility and the concentration of facilities in the South Ozone Park community,” Carrion said in the letter. “However as described in the analysis, a review of residential facilitates in Community District 10 found that it ranked 57th in the citywide ranking of residential beds by community district with a ratio of 4.5 residential beds per 1,000 people. The citywide average is 19 beds per 1,000 people and the average in Queens is 19.9.”

Braton penned a letter in response to Carrion and also read it aloud on Thursday.

“Although we appreciate your response, it does not address adequately the concerns of the residents in the area immediately surrounding the location,” Braton said. “It does not alter our board’s view or our community’s view that the site selected is inappropriate…While we understand your analysis of residential facilities in our district, we continue to maintain that your decision to place an LSP facility in immediate proximity to another, albeit one less secure, is a poor decision in that it implies that impacts on a community from one type of residential bed facility versus another type of residential bed facility are no different from each other.”

Braton’s letter was met with cheers, especially from residents standing in the back of the Knights of Columbus hall who held signs opposing the facility.

Jahi Rose, director of constituent affairs at Councilman Ruben Wills‘ office, who is strongly against the construction of the facility, thanked the community board for its efforts and said Wills’ office has been using the media to highlight ACS’ mishandling of the issue.

“We’re pretty much outlining that ACS has not been completely forthcoming with us and they’ve been disingenuous with one, notifying us and two, making sure that they are listening to our concerns,” Rose said. “We’re going to continue to fight this fight.”


Alleged Resorts World Casino killer fatally shot by cops in Brooklyn

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Updated 2:28 p.m.


A 51-year-old woman was shot and killed in the parking lot at the Resorts World Casino early Tuesday morning by her ex-boyfriend, who was later killed in a shootout with police in Brooklyn, according to authorities.

The victim – Patricia Mohammed of East 39th Street in Flatbush – was shot multiple times in the torso by 51-year-old Dalton Branch at 110-00 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park at about 2:20 a.m., police said. She was later transported to Jamaica Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

According to the Daily News, the incident occurred after Branch– a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident who was the victim’s ex-boyfriend and works for a charter bus affiliated with the casino– saw the 51-year-old woman kiss her new boyfriend in the casino’s parking lot.

Branch then reportedly opened fired at the woman and her boyfriend, who managed to escape unharmed, before heading back into his white Dodge Charger and fleeing to Brooklyn.

Officers assigned to the Queens Warrant Squad, while traveling in a white unmarked van, reportedly spotted Branch’s vehicle in a parking lot in the area of Stanley and Pennsylvania avenues at about 5:53 a.m.

When the three officers approached the car, Branch displayed a gun and fired several shots at the van, police said. The officers then exchanged fire, striking Branch multiple times about the body.

Paramedics rushed Branch to Brookdale University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Police recovered a .380-caliber firearm and additional bullets at the scene.

The three officers involved in the shooting were treated at Jamaica Hospital for tinnitus.

An investigation is ongoing.

“Resorts World is heartbroken by the tragedy that occurred earlier this morning in the casino’s parking lot. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with the NYPD in the investigation into this incident,” said a Resorts World Casino New York City spokesperson.


Student artists display work at JFK Airport

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of JFKIAT


John F. Kennedy International Airport became an art gallery for some South Ozone Park students who showcased their photographs in the airport’s Terminal 4.

A collection of photographs, taken by eighth-graders from Virgil I. Grissom Middle School (J.H.S. 226) last year, was unveiled on April 29 and will hang near the arrivals hall of the terminal.

Principal Rushell White said the objective of the project was to engage students in the college and career readiness aspect of the Common Core standards.

“It’s important for my students to be able to engage in the arts, which pique their interests, so that we can help them to make connections to their academic studies,” White said. “It feels amazing to have my students’ work displayed. There are many talented and gifted students who are just awaiting opportunities to showcase their gifts.”

The school partnered with JFKIAT, the company that operates Terminal 4, to provide students with space to highlight their photographs.

The students took photographs within a two-block radius of the Ozone Park school. They were advised by professional photographer Jeffrey Gamble to take photographs that would encourage the exploration of nature growing around them.

“Nature is all around us,” said Jeffrey Gamble. “It’s just the matter of training one’s eyes to see it. The question is to ask ourselves, ‘How can photography be used as a tool and a medium to enlighten these earthly creations and our new appreciation for them?’”

Student Marieya Jagroop took a picture of “a lovely pink flower [that] was heavily focused and contrasted very well with the sunlight,” she said.

“I felt very proud to have my picture displayed at JFK because I got recognition in a very unexpected way,” Jagroop said. “I got to experience things no other 13-year-old gets to.  I got to see the beauty in the smallest things, which makes me appreciate the world we live in.”

Her classmate Miko Hamilton chose to shoot a leaf changing colors from yellow to green.

Hamilton said he learned about taking photographs from different angels and how to edit them. Though he has no aspirations to become a professional photographer, he will always take photos as a hobby, he said.

Jagroop and Hamilton both said they saw the value of hard work pay off after realizing the recognition they received.

“I never thought I’d see my own picture plastered in an international airport for thousands of people to see,” Jagroop said. It’s been a year and my photography pictures have come back and they reflect who I am, so I definitely see this as a future internship or a side job.”


88-year-old bicyclist dies following hit-and-run in South Ozone Park

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


An 88-year-old man who was hit by a fleeing driver as he was riding his bike in South Ozone Park last week has died, police announced Tuesday.

Mohamed Ali was riding his bike on the sidewalk along 131st Street near Rockaway Boulevard just before 1 p.m. on April 16 when a blue sedan struck him as the bicyclist entered the street, authorities said. The vehicle then fled the scene.

EMS rushed Ali to Jamaica Hospital, where he later died from his injuries.

Ali’s family is hoping the driver, who is still at large, will be brought to justice soon, according to published reports. The South Ozone Park resident was an immigrant from Guyana and great-great-grandfather.

“If that person does come forward and they do try to redeem themselves or repent for what that person did, I think it would at least give some people some closure in this family,” one of Ali’s grandsons, Khalid Janeer, told WABC.


New signs to point south Queens community in the right direction

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Phil Goldfeder


Whenever the next coastal emergency strikes, south Queens residents will no longer experience confusion when driving to their nearest evacuation center.

New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have installed new coastal evacuation center signage in south Queens and the Rockaways to direct residents to their designated evacuation center at John Adams High School in South Ozone Park, instead of Aqueduct Racetrack.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder contacted the DOT last May after residents were led in two different directions when trying to reach an evacuation center during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

Aqueduct Racetrack previously acted as the evacuation center before Resorts World Casino was opened in October 2011. After the casino was constructed, the center was changed to John Adams High School.

Though emergency personnel directed people to John Adams High School, the existing signage still pointed to Aqueduct. City evacuation plans and NYCEM city flood maps list John Adams High School as the zoned evacuation center but signage did not reflect the change.

Goldfeder reached out to the DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to request that the agency update and maintain designated evacuation routes and signs.

Signage was updated and installed in early April at 28 locations including cross sections on Beach Channel Drive, Cross Bay Boulevard, Rockaway Boulevard and Belt Parkway and will be maintained regularly by the DOT, according to an NYCEM spokesperson.

Goldfeder said these signs are crucial in ensuring the safety of all residents and thanked NYCEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito for playing a role in the installations.

“This change to our emergency evacuation route signage will save thousands of lives by helping direct families in the event of major disasters,” Goldfeder said. “Our community has had two major evacuations in the last four years. The vital information these signs provide is the key to keeping our families safe during emergencies.”

The repairs were done in time for the Atlantic hurricane season and NYCEM is preparing to relaunch the “Know Your Zone” hurricane campaign to encourage New Yorkers to find out if they live in a hurricane zone and what steps to take to plan ahead.

“Hurricane season is around the corner, and we want every New Yorker to be aware of what hurricane evacuation zone they live in and how they can get to their nearest evacuation center if necessary,” NYCEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito said.


SUV crashes into South Ozone Park store

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of @NYScanner

An SUV slammed into a South Ozone Park discount store Sunday afternoon, injuring two people, reports said.

The vehicle crashed into the front glass wall of the Deals store about 4:30 p.m. at 109th Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park, according to WABC and the FDNY.

Two people were hurt and taken to Jamaica Hospital, fire officials said. Their injuries were reportedly minor.

According to CBS New York, the driver, who witnesses said appeared to be a woman in her 40s or 50s, may have confused the accelerator for the brakes. The driver has not been charged.


Bandits wanted for towing away air pumps from Queens gas stations

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are searching for the airheads who stole self-serve air pump machines from 17 gas stations in Queens and Brooklyn since December.

In each caper the suspects used a hook and chain attached to a vehicle to yank the coin-operated devices from their pedestals, authorities said. Each of the air pumps contained hundreds of dollars in quarters and police believe the crooks got away with more than $40,000 in change combined.

A dozen of the thefts occurred in Queens, and security cameras captured one of the incidents which occurred at 6:35 p.m. on March 21 at the Sunoco gas station located at 128-24 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park.

Two men, described as white or Hispanic, were spotted in the video. Police said one of them, who was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans, was observed operating a blue Honda Accord.

The other Queens air pump thefts are as follows:

  • At 4 p.m. on Dec. 29, the crooks removed an air pump containing $800 in change from the Citgo gas station located at 91-02 South Conduit Ave. in Ozone Park. They returned to the location on March 1 at 3 p.m. and stole the replacement air pump, valued at $1,000.
  • On Dec. 30, at about 10 p.m., the bandits stole an air pump containing $200 from the Getty gas station at 70-21 73rd Pl. in Glendale.
  • At 8 p.m. on Jan. 12, the suspects removed an air compressor valued at $2,500 from the BP gas station at 130-11 North Conduit Ave. in South Ozone Park. They returned twice more to this location — at 9 p.m. on Jan. 28 and again at 10 p.m. on April 1 — and removed the replacement air compressors.
  • On Jan. 13, at about 6:59 p.m., the crooks removed an air pump valued at $2,000 from the Sunoco gas station at 162-35 North Conduit Ave. in Springfield Gardens.
  • At 12:20 a.m. on March 8, the bandits removed the air pump from the Global gas station at 49-25 Van Dam St. in Long Island City.
  • That same morning, at 2 a.m., the crooks yanked away the air pump machine from the Exxon gas station at 59-51 Long Island Expwy. in Long Island City.
  • At 8:26 p.m. on March 16, the suspects removed the air pump machine from the BP gas station located at 100-07 Rockaway Blvd. in Ozone Park.
  • At 9:26 p.m. on March 20, the perpetrators removed an unknown amount of change from the vacuum air machine at the Eagle service center located at 49-05 Astoria Blvd. in Astoria.

Among the five Brooklyn locations in the pattern was the Exxon GPN Boulevard gas station at 1193 Myrtle Ave. in Bushwick. The crooks removed the station’s air pump machine, valued at $700, at 9:08 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 2.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.


Elderly bicyclist struck in South Ozone Park hit-and-run

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Updated Friday, April 17, 9:13 a.m.

Police are looking for the driver who hit an 88-year-old bicyclist in South Ozone Park Thursday afternoon.

The victim was riding his bike on 131st Street near Rockaway Boulevard at about 1 p.m. when a blue sedan struck him, authorities said. The vehicle then fled.

The bicyclist was taken to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition.


Councilman Wills once again indicted on corruption charges

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File photo

Councilman Ruben Wills is racking up quite a rap sheet.

The city councilman, who had already been indicted, was indicted again on Tuesday for charges alleging that he filed false financial disclosure reports. He pleaded not guilty.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli charged Wills with allegedly filing false documents about his finances to the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board. Elected officials in New York City must file these documents for public scrutiny and to guard against any potential conflicts between their personal and city business.

“Submitting false documents to the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board is a serious crime,” Schneiderman said.  “My office’s partnership with the comptroller is designed to combat corruption in the public sector, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the public trust is not undercut by public servants who are not truthful in their disclosures.”

Schneiderman and DiNapoli charged Wills with five counts of the class E felony of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. Schneiderman and DiNapoli claim that from 2011 to 2013 Wills purposely omitted certain financial dealings. If convicted, Wills faces up to four years in prison.

And the history between the state attorney and Wills goes back to 2014.

Back in May 2014, Wills, who represents the 28th District, which includes Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale and South Ozone Park, was indicted on charges by Schneiderman for allegedly stealing public campaign funds and using the cash for a Louis Vuitton handbag and shopping sprees at Nordstrom, Century 21 and other locales. He’s also accused of taking a $33,000 member item from since-convicted former state Sen. Shirley Huntley for his fake charity but pocketing most of it. Those charges are pending.


Man arrested in deadly South Ozone Park shooting

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Police have arrested a man in a South Ozone Park shooting where one person was killed and another was injured while they were sitting in a parked car earlier this month.

Jiram Ali Suarez, 24, of Queens Village, is facing second-degree murder, robbery and criminal possession charges in the Jan. 6 incident, cops said.

The gunman fired at the two men as they were seated inside a Honda CRV on 130th Street near Old South Road at about 10 p.m., according to police.

John Pichardo, 19, of Brooklyn, was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the scene. A 21-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound to the right leg, police said. He was taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition.


Two shot, one fatally, while sitting in parked car in South Ozone Park

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


One man was killed and a second was injured when they were shot while sitting in a parked car in South Ozone Park on Tuesday night, cops said.

An unknown gunman fired at the two men as they were seated inside a Honda CRV on 130th Street near Old South Road at about 10 p.m. police said.

One man, who has yet to be identified by police, was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the scene. The second victim, a 21-year-old man, suffered a gunshot wound to the right leg. He was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he is listed in stable condition, cops said.

There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.



Jamaican singer Mavado surprises kids at South Ozone Park school

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Children at a public school in South Ozone Park got a special gift this holiday season.

Mavado, a famous Jamaican singer, visited the school on Wednesday not only to perform for the students, but to also spread some knowledge of his own.

“You are the men and women of tomorrow,” he said to the crowd of kids as they were screaming and clapping in awe. “School is important. Make sure you stay in school.”


The event took place at the J.H.S 226 Virgil I. Grissom school, located at 120-10 Rockaway Blvd. Children at the school who were on good behavior and had perfect attendance up to this point in the year got to see him.

He performed his hit song, “So Special,” for the children and had them sing along, expressing how special each and everyone of them are.


Mavado hails from Jamaica. He has performed songs with singers and groups such as G-Unit, Nicki Minaj and Drake, among others. One of his latest hits was titled “Give It All to Me,” featuring Nick Minaj.

He said it is important for celebrities to give back to children who look up to them because they will soon be the leaders of the world.

“Children are the future,” he said. “They listen to our music and look up to us and will be the men and women leaders in the future, so it is very important [to give back].”